The Week 15 matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers pitted two 5-8 teams head-to-head, but these two teams couldn’t be in more different situations heading into the game Sunday. The Panthers were still alive in the atrocious NFC South, while the Steelers division hopes were gone, and their playoff hopes were dangling by a very thin thread.
Nonetheless, these two teams squared off in Charlotte, NC with a Sam Darnold vs. Mitch Trubisky matchup. The Steelers were without Kenny Pickett, who failed to clear concussion protocol after leaving in the first quarter of the Week 14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Trubisky and the Steelers offense would have to wait to get their first possession, with the Steelers winning the toss and deferring their possession to the second half.
Carolina’s first drive lasted just three plays before punting the ball to Pittsburgh. Starting at their own 34-yard line, the Steelers put together an impressive opening drive. Highlighted by several big Najee Harris runs, and timely third down conversions, the drive was capped off by another Harris touchdown run of the season.
Chris Boswell’s extra point was good, making the score 7-0 with 5:48 left in the opening quarter.
The Panthers were putting together their best drive of the day, thus far, and were in a first and goal situation to end the first quarter.